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“The Media’s Collusion With Politicians?”: Should A Member Of The Press “Clear The Air” With A Politician?

One of the arguments that is often used to point out unfairness is to suggest what things would look like if roles were reversed. For example, pointing out that a remark was sexist by asking what it would look like if the same thing were said to a man.

That kind of argument is so often abused that I tend to avoid it. Nevertheless, it was the first thing that came to mind when I heard that Fox News reporter Megyn Kelly had a private meeting with Donald Trump and reported that they had a chance to “clear the air.”

Let’s remember what happened here. In a Republican presidential debate Kelly asked Trump some tough questions. He didn’t like them and went on for days and weeks to say horribly sexist things about her. The feud disturbed the relationship Fox News had with the presidential contender and became the focus of a lot of press reports.

Here is where I want to employ the role change argument. What would we be saying about a media reporter who asked a Democratic candidate tough questions that eventually led to a private meeting to clear the air? I submit that holy hell would break out about the media’s collusion with politicians and failure to play their role as watch dogs.

In no way do I mean to imply any sympathy for Megyn Kelly. She is part of a media institution that, while pretending to be “fair and balanced,” is nothing more than a mouthpiece for conservatives. I’d propose that is why so few people find this whole episode to be unremarkable…it’s what we expect from Fox News.

I’ll not be breaking any new ground when I point out that this is actually a perfect example of how that network is not a news organization, but a PR arm of the Republican Party. But in this case, I think it still needs to be said out loud.

 

By: Nancy Letourneau, Political Animal Blog, The Washington Monthly, April 14, 2016

April 15, 2016 Posted by | Donald Trump, Media, Megyn Kelly | , , , , , , | 2 Comments

“First, Know How Power Works”: Revolutionaries Have To Be Smart And Ruthless

Truer words were never spoken:

A top Republican National Committee staffer fired back Tuesday at presidential frontrunner Donald Trump, saying it’s not the committee’s fault that Trump’s campaign staffers and his children don’t understand the rules.

Sean Spicer, an RNC spokesman, said on CNN the delegate allocation rules in Colorado and every other state were filed with the national committee back in October and made available to every GOP campaign.

“If you’re a campaign and you don’t understand the process that’s going on, then that’s bad on the staff. That’s bad on the campaign,” he said. “Running for office entails putting together a campaign that understands the process. There’s nothing rigged.”

Spicer continued: “I understand that people sometimes don’t like the process or may not understand it, but that doesn’t mean it’s not fair and open and transparent.”

Apparently, a couple of Trump’s children couldn’t even understand how to register themselves to vote in the New York primary.

Look, I understand the sentiment that the system is rotten and the game is rigged. I do. But I don’t take people seriously who seek power but have no real idea how power works. If you want to be the nominee of the Republican or the Democratic Party, you need to figure out how that can be done. And, if you’re an outsider who is running with a message that the gatekeepers are all a bunch of losers and morons, or that they’re all corrupted by money, then you’ll need a plan for winning the people you’ve insulted over to your side.

Let me remind you to take a look at the list of Republicans that Donald Trump has insulted just on Twitter. I won’t deny that Trump’s insult-dog comedy routine contributed to his electoral successes, but it’s biting him in the ass now that he’s losing delegates who should rightfully be in his corner.

Bernie Sanders ought to have understood that he needed to work very hard on introducing himself to southern black voters, but that’s only half of his problem. The other half is that the superdelegates are overwhelmingly opposed to his candidacy. He needed a plan to prevent that from happening.

We can argue about how possible it ever was for either of these candidates to win over more establishment support, but they both thought they could overcome the lack of it by going straight to the people. Trump may still pull this out, maybe, but he’s acting awfully surprised to discover that his delegates can be stolen from him for the simple reason that delegates don’t like him. A savvy adviser would have told him about this likelihood last summer, and maybe he could have been a little more selective in his insults and a little more solicitous of establishment support.

Obviously, Sanders is running an outsider campaign built on criticizing those who are flourishing in our current political system, but he’s also running to be the leader of a party (and all that party’s infrastructure and organizations), and there has to be a better middle ground that allows you to challenge entrenched power without totally alienating it. Even if there wasn’t a way to be successful in gathering more institutional support, I would have liked to see him make the effort.

So far, I’ve been focusing on a straightforward strategy for winning a major party nomination as an outsider and challenger of the status quo, which is difficult enough. But imagine if one of these two outsiders actually won the presidency. They’d both have a lot of repair work to do with an establishment that they’d have to govern.

I really do understand the appeal of declaring the whole system rotten and just going after it in a populist appeal for root-and-branch change. But I think it’s a bit of a sucker’s game to hitch yourself to that kind of wagon if you don’t get the sense that the challengers really understand how power works, how to seize it, and what to do with it if you get it.

I want a progressive challenger who is pragmatic and ruthless enough to navigate our rotten system and then have the leadership abilities to lead it once they’ve taken control of it.

I never got the sense that Sanders was that guy, or even close to that guy.

 

By: Martin Longman, Political Animal Blog, The Washington Monthly, April 13, 2016

April 15, 2016 Posted by | Bernie Sanders, Campaign Consultants, Donald Trump, Governing | , , , , , | 2 Comments

“The Larger Democratic Fight”: Bernie Sanders Finds ‘The Right Candidates’

It’s no secret that Bernie Sanders’ fundraising juggernaut has amazed much of the political world, exceeding Hillary Clinton’s financial support over each of the last few months. The Clinton campaign has been quick to note, however, that the Democratic frontrunner has spent the year raising millions of dollars, not just for her candidacy, but also for the Democratic Party and more than 30 state Democratic parties, in the hopes of building a broader foundation for the 2016 elections.

The Vermont independent, meanwhile, has collected stunning sums for his own campaign operation, but so far in 2016, Sanders hasn’t raised any money for the Democratic Party, any of the state Democratic parties, or even any specific Democratic candidates. When Rachel asked in a recent interview whether that might eventually change, the senator replied, “We’ll see.”

But Jane Sanders said something interesting on the show last week. Asked whether her husband might be willing to help other campaigns financially, she said Sanders would definitely lend a hand – for “the right candidates.”

Yesterday, we got a better sense of what that means. Politico reported:

Bernie Sanders is raising money for a trio of progressive House candidates who have endorsed him, a move that comes just weeks after he faced friendly fire for not committing to fundraise for down-ballot Democrats. […]

The trio of candidates – New York’s Zephyr Teachout, Nevada’s Lucy Flores, and Washington state’s Pramila Jayapal – is running in primaries that pit them against more establishment-aligned foes.

In a fundraising solicitation that went to donors yesterday, Sanders wrote, “I’ve told you throughout this campaign that no candidate for president, not Bernie Sanders, not the greatest president you could possibly imagine, can take on the billionaire class alone.  When I am elected president, I am going to need progressives in Congress who are willing to continue the fight we started in this campaign.”

The pitch makes the case for Teachout, Jayapal, and Flores, and the letter included a link to a fundraising page in which donors were offered a choice: make a contribution that would be divided evenly four ways (the three congressional candidates and Sanders), or specify a personalized allocation for the contribution.

And in some ways, this new endeavor is itself emblematic of the larger Democratic fight.

Zephyr Teachout is running in New York’s 19th congressional district, which is currently held by a retiring Republican. Democratic officials are generally optimistic about Will Yandik, a local city councilman, but Sanders is now raising money for his more liberal primary rival.

Lucy Flores is running in Nevada’s 4th congressional district, which is also currently held by a Republican. Many Democratic officials have rallied behind state Sen. Ruben Kihuen, but Sanders is now raising money for his more liberal primary rival.

Pramila Jayapal is running in Washington’s 7th congressional district, where a Democratic incumbent in retiring. Many local Democratic leaders are backing Joe McDermott, a King County council member, but Sanders is now raising money for his more liberal primary rival.

It’s as if there’s a pattern emerging.

The big news here, of course, is the shift itself: Sanders was raising money exclusively for himself, and now he’s not. This, to a degree, brings him more in line with Clinton’s approach of supporting other Democrats seeking other offices.

But even here, there’s a stark difference between the two. Team Clinton is supporting the national and state parties generally, while Team Sanders is supporting more specific allies. It’s a matter of perspective which approach is more compelling.

That said, I’d be interested in hearing more from Sanders about his long-term intentions in this area. After all, the president – any president – is practically by definition also the head of his or her party. What kind of role would Sanders envision for himself with regard to the DNC and related campaign committees? Would Democratic candidates who only agreed with parts of Sanders’ agenda still be able to count on support from a Sanders White House? As the convention draws closer, they’re the kind of questions superdelegates seem likely to ask.

 

By: Steve Benen, The Maddow Blog, April 14, 2016

April 15, 2016 Posted by | Bernie Sanders, Down Ballot Candidates, Hillary Clinton | , , , , , , | 1 Comment

“In A Better Position To Rebuild”: Should The GOP Establishment Be Rooting For Cruz To Lose In November?

Last week I argued the true nightmare scenario for Republican elites was a Donald Trump general election victory that would place an alien figure in the White House and give Democrats a heaven-sent opportunity for a big comeback sooner rather than later. Peter Beinart now persuasively argues that the best the GOP may be able to make of a bad situation is for Trump to lose to Cruz, who in turn will lose to Clinton, who in turn will lose to a revived mainstream GOP in 2020.

Beinart’s point of departure is that if Trump beats Cruz in Cleveland and then predictably goes down the tubes in November, the Texan will be in a fine position to inherit the nomination in 2020 as the guy who will finally show what a “true conservative” can do. If Cruz wins in Cleveland, though, he’ll discredit the longstanding belief of the Right that offering a “choice not an echo” is the path to party  victory.

[A] Cruz defeat at the hands of Clinton this November leaves the GOP in a better position to rebuild than a Trump loss to Clinton does. By conventional standards, Trump isn’t all that conservative. That means, if Trump loses this fall, conservative purists can again make the argument they made after John McCain and Mitt Romney lost: The GOP needs to nominate a true believer. And they’ll have such a true believer waiting in the wings as the early front-runner in 2020: Ted Cruz. After all, losing the nomination to Trump would put Cruz in second place, and the GOP has a history of giving second-place finishers the nomination the next time around (Bob Dole, McCain, Romney). Plus, after building the best grassroots network of all the 2016 candidates, Cruz—who’ll be barely 50 years old in four years—would enter 2020 with a big organizational edge. Thus, the GOP would remain at the mercy of its extreme base.

[A] Cruz loss in November would undercut the right’s argument against choosing a more moderate nominee. To be sure, some grassroots conservatives would find a way to rationalize Cruz’s defeat and preserve their belief that a right-wing ideologue can win. But more pragmatic conservatives would be confirmed in their belief that the next GOP nominee must reach out to Millennials, Latinos, and single women, and offer more to working-class Americans than just less taxation and regulation. A Cruz general-election defeat would strengthen the “Reformicons” who are trying to reform the GOP in some of the ways New Democrats reformed their party in the late 1980s and early 1990s.

I’d add to Beinart’s argument, of course, that a Clinton victory in November would set up mainstream Republicans—under the congressional leadership of their not-so-secret favorite Paul Ryan, for a very good midterm election in 2018, showing once against that “pragmatic” conservatism is the ticket to ride. Clinton, meanwhile, having already broken the glass ceiling by becoming the first woman to serve as president, would be ripe for defeat in 2020 as America tired of twelve straight years of Democrats in the White House.

Would GOP elites trade this complex scenario for a Paul Ryan or Jeb Bush or Marco Rubio presidential nomination this year? In a heartbeat.  But that’s no longer on the table.  Ted Cruz is a known quantity who could dispose of the more alarming and unpredictable Donald Trump in Cleveland and then discredit hard-core conservatives without unduly damaging the ticket down-ballot. The remote chance he could actually win is a contingency the GOP can deal with on down the road.

 

By: Ed Kilgore, Daily Intelligencer, New York Magazine, April 14, 2016

April 15, 2016 Posted by | Donald Trump, Establishment Republicans, GOP Primaries, Ted Cruz | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“America Needs An Attitude Adjustment”: Here’s A Reminder About The USA’s Many Accomplishments

A wise friend once pointed out to me that the relationship between an individual and her to-do list is called “attitude.” Profound, right? If we think “I can’t do it all,” then we can be sure that we won’t. Whereas if we decide “I can do this,” we have a good chance.

Attitude applies to everything from work, to relationships, to weight loss. It also applies to things beyond ourselves, such as politics, leadership and governing.

So picture, for one moment, each of our leading presidential candidates. Are they smiling? Any of them? I didn’t think so.

Picture the American people, however you might conjure that. Do they look happy?

I’m sure you can see where I’m going here. The “I can do it” or “we can do it” attitude is embodied by one of the most beautiful human characteristics: the smile. “I can’t do it” or “we suck” is characterized by the most-unflattering frown or scowl.

Our country is past due for an attitude adjustment. We yearn for a leader to bring us that gift – to renew our optimism, our healthy attitude. We remember great leaders like Reagan and Kennedy as men who were smiling.

But if we aren’t going to get that type of leader any time soon, it might be up to us to enact a national attitude adjustment. So let us take a break from criticizing our politicians and our government. Let us focus on the good things about the U.S. of A.

We live in a country where a young, brilliant and stunningly wealthy entrepreneur – Napster founder and former Facebook president Sean Parker – just announced he is contributing his innovative leadership and personal wealth to cutting-edge efforts to cure cancer. That kind of thing happens here. It doesn’t happen everywhere in the world.

We have contributed – and continue to contribute – the most incredible technology, medicine and art to the world. To illustrate, I’ll point out just a few in each category: the light bulb, the telephone, television, airplanes, the personal computer, transistors and the integrated circuit, social media and, thanks to Founding Father Thomas Jefferson, the swivel chair. General anesthesia, immunotherapy for cancer, 3-d printed prosthetics and organ transplants. Hemingway and Faulkner, American television (OK, bear with me, I’m talking about “Seinfeld,” “The Sopranos” and “Breaking Bad,” not “The Bachelor”), American movies, and American music. (How sad the world would be without the blues and jazz.)

Seriously, when you look at that very-short list, why are we – and our leaders – so busy beating ourselves up? I mean, I didn’t even mention how many medals we win at the Olympics. I didn’t even mention Oprah. Or Oreos. Or Yellowstone National Park. Or small business. Or Uber.

We all like to complain about our own political parties a lot, too, and maybe we ought to ease up a bit. After all, both the Republican and Democrat parties have produced some excellent leaders and public policies. When the parties have worked together, they’ve achieved many incredible successes, such as defeating the evils of fascism and imperialism in World War II, and then helping to rebuild post-war Europe and Japan, standing up to Soviet expansionism, and enacting civil rights laws to protect all Americans. Oh, and yes, it was America that put the first man on the moon.

A reminder to both citizens and leaders: If beating ourselves up was an effective way to make things better, we’d all be amazing. (For example, I, personally, would be very, very thin if my own hurtful self-critiques somehow magically produced weight loss.)

But that kind of attitude doesn’t work. Not for individuals, not for our country, not for our leaders. And if those leaders haven’t figured that out yet, we – the people – are just going to have to be the example. This power, like the power of our country, does still rest in our own hands.

 

By: Jean Card, Thomas Jefferson Street Blog; U. S. News and World Report, April 14, 2016

April 15, 2016 Posted by | America, Politics, Presidential Candidates | , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

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